Mumbai: The Madras high court on Wednesday stayed May orders by the Mumbai and Chennai commissioners of customs that had ruled in favour of companies importing dual-SIM mobile phones.
SIM is short for subscriber identification module, a technology used to operate a wireless phone connection.
These phones are imported by at least 15 companies including Samsung, LG Electronics India Ltd and several other domestic firms.
Talking tough: Samsung India and Hansum India were arguing against S. Ramkumar, who holds a patent for the technology in India. Madhu Kapparath / Mint
It was the first time that the customs had ruled in a patents case of this kind in the country. The ruling was first reported by SpicyIP, a blog maintained by Shamnad Basheer, a patents expert and professor at the National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata.
The leading parties in the legal case were Samsung India Electronics Ltd and Hansum India Ltd, which were arguing against Madurai-based engineer S. Ramkumar, who holds a patent for dual-SIM phones in India.
The Madras high court order followed a writ petition by Ramkumar.
In May, the customs commissioners at Mumbai and Chennai had ruled that the mobile phones imported by the two companies do not infringe Ramkumar’s patent granted by the Chennai patent office in January.
The customs order meant that such phones could not be seized at airports, as they had been after a request filed earlier this year by Ramkumar under the Intellectual Property Rights (Imported Goods) Enforcement Rules.
Ramkumar, however, had questioned in his writ petition the competence of customs officials to decide on patent issues, the SpicyIP post said.
A Samsung India spokesperson said on Thursday: “The company has already replied to the interim order of the Madras high court and asked for an early hearing of the case.”
According to Basheer, the court’s stay order raises two interesting jurisdictional issues, the “first being a question whether customs has jurisdictional competence to decide patent issues and can it block allegedly (patent) infringing goods at all or not, and secondly, will it indicate that customs needs to ask the patentee to obtain an order from the court declaring infringement before it seizes the goods”.